From: Su Min
Subject: Holy Week
Even as much as I have set myself to go with you along a steady course through the Gospel according to St Matthew in a systematic fashion, the events of Holy Week impinge upon me so resoundingly that I am compelled to pause and share with you a short detour touching on the events that centre around Holy Week.
There are so many theological high points that I scarce know where to start.. Perhaps the core of yesterday's sermon by Rev David CS Wee is good as any. The scriptural text was from Luke 23: Vs 1-3 & vs 32-33, contrasting with Luke 19: 28-38.
The triumphal entry is described in the 4 gospels: (Matt 21: 1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28- 44, John 12: 12-15) Do read them. As we read the text describing the triumphal entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, the beast of burden selected is variously described as a colt (Mark 11:2, Luke 19:30), a young ass (John 12:14, KJV) a young donkey (NIV) a colt, the foal of an ass (Matt 21:5) (colt, foal of a donkey (Amp).
While it is clear to us that Jesus did not choose a mighty white stallion with its military significance, the humbler beast does not deserve the silly stupidity that we nowadays attribute to "Donkey" or "Ass".
The royal beast of burden was descended from the Nubian wild ass, Equus asinus. The ass or donkey was associated with royalty. It was loyal, meek, mild, surefooted, with endurance, capable of travelling about 30 kilometers a day. That Jesus chose an ass to ride is congruent with his role as king of kings and lord of lords, prince of peace: not a military hero to vanquish the Romans, but a spiritual leader who would liberate his people from sin and eternal death. The royal beast of burden was part of God's plan for our redemption, the prophet Zechariah having proclaimed
Rejoice greatly; O daughter of ZionRead Luke 19: 28-36 and picture how the disciples went forth to successfully request the loan of a donkey from strangers: more evidence of God's perfect planning.
Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
see, your king comes to you
righteous and having salvation
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zech 9:9
During our March 94 Holy Land pilgrimage we walked down this steep road that descended from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.
What would you and I have done if we had been there on the Palm Sunday 2000 years ago? Would we have joined the crowds in their adoration? Laid our cloaks on the ground for the Messiah to ride on? Cut branches of palms and lay them in front of him? Wave palm fronds in the air. Call out hosanna? Remember the event with fondness and recount the event to our children and grand children? Receive the King in all his glory? Many did. But many were bystanders who did not really know what was going on. They joined in the physical action without knowing the spiritual significance. Do you welcome Jesus as King of your life? or do you just make friendly noises like the rest of the crowd, without really submitting your life to Jesus.
- We could well imagine Jesus riding on a donkey, the crowds ecstatically greeting him, spreading their cloaks in front of him (Matt 21:28) like a red carpet, lining the road with cut branches, and waving palm branches in exultation: Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. There were his disciples. There were those who had followed him and learned from his teaching. There were curious bystanders. Caught up with crowd enthusiasm and herd instinct, many would call out Hosanna without really knowing what was going on. Many would be the very people who would later join the frenzied mob calling out "Crucify him!" (Matt 27:22)
- They shouted all the louder "Crucify him" (Matt 27:23)
- "Crucify him" they shouted (Mark 15:13)
- But they shouted all the louder "Crucify Him" (Mark 15:14)
- But they kept on shouting "Crucify him, crucify him" (Luke 15:20)
- But they shouted "Take him away. Take him away. Crucify him" (John 19:15).
On the other side of the city, beyond the city wall, on the hill called the skull, in Latin Calvary, in Aramaic Golgotha, the rabble crowd had in effect nailed Jesus to the cross by their calling out "Crucify Him". What would you or I have done if we had been there in the crowd before Pilate 2000 years ago? But for the grace of God, I know it would have been so easy for me to call out for blood. To condemn an innocent man to die as a criminal, because he threatened to rock to boat.
But we do not need time travel to repeat the scene. Today Jesus rides on a donkey through the streets of your heart. Will you receive him as King? In doing so will you commit to serve him with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your worldly possessions, and with all your working time and leisure time? As you open your mouth and sing Hosanna and Hallelujah, is there a spiritual dimension to your commitment? Or are you just echoing the words of the crowd, with no concept of what us really going on...
Today our Lord stands before Pilate. Today the Pontius Pilates of Hollywood and the Corporate world try him by corrupt earthly standards. Will you join the crowds in condemning him as a criminal? Crucify Him. Is that your voice echoing the call. If you do not call him Lord and if you do not accept him as Lord, then indeed you drive the nails though his hands and feet.
Let us pray.
We thank you for the lessons that you teach us during Holy Week.
Even as we prepare for Easter Sunday festivities, Father, help us understand the
spiritual dimension of the associated events.
Thank you for sending Jesus, who came that we may have eternal life.
Thank you for the free gift of eternal life, free for us, because Jesus paid the price with his blood on the cross.
Father, teach us to submit to your will, and to ever walk your in your way, seeking your glory and your glory alone.
In the precious name of Jesus, whom we acknowledge as Saviour, Shepherd, King of Kings, our King, and Lord of Lords, Lord of our lives.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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